Tramping about in the woods looking for and managing Tree of Heaven and Honeysuckle during the winter provides an opportunity to witness some of the rarer sights Pocahontas has to offer. Mushrooms are common enough as a group, but the Chicken Mushroom below is not so often seen. This cluster is hiding on the back side of a tree near one of the park trails. The second photo is an attempt to capture Mistletoe at the top of a tall oak tree. Mistletoe is uncommon in the Piedmont and has not been officially recorded as present here.
A little of this and a little of that, today in the gardens. We spent a few minutes at the CCC Field, weeding and spreading some buckets of mulch. I particularly wanted to mark a grape-fern which I found under the mountain laurels. Grape-fern is a small fern-like plant that is common in these woods, but I suspect it is rarely noticed from the walking trails.
To help visitors identify more of the plants in the gardens, in place of the black-and-silver plant tags, I have obtained "garden tags", the same tags but with the garden name and a QR code link to the garden on Plants Map. A visitor with a smartphone (some 60% of us now have them) can pull up the garden and peruse the labelled images of the plants in the garden. We installed the garden tags at the CCC Museum, the Heritage Center and the Native Plant Garden.
After taking out a few clumps of broomsedge, we left the Native Plant Garden and visited the Bright Hope Butterfly Garden. This garden is the project of a member of Pocahontas Chapter, Virginia Master Naturalists, and is not part of our maintenance routine. Our purpose there was primarily to receive from the Friends of Pocahontas firewood crew some bucked log sections to be used for casual seating around the garden.
The final stop for today was at the Powhatan Dining Hall Garden. There we cut back the spent flower stems, pulled up the few weeds and pruned the elderberries. The only plant still flowering is a tall, showy aster which we have yet to identify. To close out the morning's work, we took a short walk into the woods to inspect a small vernal salamander pool. It had filled with water in the recent heavy rains, but was once again dry. On the walk we came across a cluster of Black Trumpet mushrooms (photo below).
Thoughts on the park, its residents and how to preserve its natural beauty.